Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What do you want,efficiency,or low cost,,or Green?

Energy factors are one thing, initial cost is yet another, and long term savings are often too deferred. Now "Green," there is a buzz word! I will set you straight on the uncertain choice of which is best. For today, I'll limit this to the subject of HOT WATER.

 First, I'll identify some products as potentially green, providing installation is done right and application is correct.

I will start with my favorite: solar hot water.  Many types of systems exist. If you live in a sunny region, then it is a no brainier look into Solar. Solar fraction is the nut to crack! (how much of your total need is provided by the sun)  Electric back up is often a good choice (electricity is generally more efficient than gas, but it costs more!).

If you have a new construction project your choices  are different than retrofitting an existing building.  Two water heaters  for a large spread out house will be better than one ( no circulation pump needed for instant hot water at distant fixture).  If the heat is solar (free) then heat loss is not an issue, but otherwise heat loss is an issue, and circulation pumps increase heat loss.    One form of Heat loss is from the surface area of  tank-type water heaters, that is the advantage tankless systems have over them.  Behavior is an issue in green success. For example, tankless systems can be green, but may end up using more gas to heat the endless showers that the users take - because they can!   Tankless units cost more to install and require flushing maintenance prolonging the pay back period.  Sometimes, the long term savings (pay back) is longer than the salesman says.  This goes for solar or anything else.  Regular tank type water heating either gas or electric is usually the cheapest, fastest deal, with no pay back. Although installed correctly, they can be "green" (the product itself isn't everything).

Heat pump water heating in some applications is the absolute best. Water heaters each have an efficiency rating. The higher the number the bette.r   GE makes a unit having an efficiency rating of 2.35!  Tankless water heaters are about .85 (less than half the efficiency).

This GE unit costs about as much as a tankless unit, uses electricity as a back up power, and requires a warm location to pull its heat from.  In return for taking the heat, it gives cold air as a by-product (free AC)! It dehumidifies as well.  If no sun and no gas are present this is a very good option.

Green is not just a buzz word, it is a means to a return on investment (ROI), usually taking longer than the cheapest quickest fix, but not always.  The heat pump I installed at Ramona Laund yer Mutt (a place people go to wash their dog)  was cheaper than solar or to install gas pipe to a gas water heater. "Green as hell" I say, and cheap too.  I expect a ROI in just two years.  Just plain smart, (green).  I have to say it again 2.35 energy factor!  And, most likely it will last 25 years,   leaving 20 plus years of free water heating.

Most importantly, a licensed Green Plumber USA installed this after evaluating options from an educated perspective. Heat requirements (load), budget, green product rebate, fuel available, and customers wishes were all in the choice.

So what do you want? Efficiency, low cost, or green?


  1. Nice post.

    Thanks for the effort you took to expand upon this topic so thoroughly. I look forward to future post.

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  2. Good point. I am so glad that I run into this blog.I'll visit again for more of your posts.

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